The Risks of Hip Replacement

SoreHipby Jennifer Mesko

Hip replacement surgery is a big deal. Hopefully, having such an important joint replaced will make a huge difference in your life—allowing you to be mobile, active and pain-free in a way you haven’t been in years.

Unfortunately, however, such a major surgery also carries risks. Here are some risks you should be aware of:

  • Blood clots – Blood clots are one of the most serious possible complications from hip replacement surgery. Your surgeon will go over strategies to prevent blood clots with you before the procedure and may prescribe preventive medication. If a blood clot occurs, it can lead to heart attack, stroke or death.

  • Infection – Infection can happen with any surgery. Your doctor may prescribe antibiotics to lower your risk of infection, but an infection could occur anyway. While an infection may delay full recovery, most can be treated by your doctor.

  • Fracture – Fracture is a very dangerous complication. To reduce your risk of fracture, follow all of your doctor’s instructions and avoid activities that could put your new hip at risk.

  • Metal poisoning – Sometimes the artificial joint is defective and can lead to very serious side effects. If the implant has two or more metal parts, like the Biomet M2a Magnum hip, toxic metal particles can be released into the bloodstream during normal movement. Other implants like the Stryker Rejuvenate and ABG II can cause similar problems. Talk to your doctor if you have unusual pain after surgery.

  • Revision surgery – There are several reasons revision surgery might become necessary. Most hip joints wear out after 15-20 years, so you may need another surgery if you live past the life of your artificial implant. Some complications, such as fracture, loosening and metal poisoning, can also lead to revision surgery. Revision surgery is more risky than the first surgery.

No surgery is completely risk free, but chances are that having the procedure will improve your life. Even though some of the risks that come with hip surgery are out of your control, there are still steps you can take to protect yourself. Follow your doctor’s instructions, keep up with physical therapy exercises, and don’t overwork your new hip.

Soon, you’ll be on your way to a completely changed quality of life.

Jennifer Mesko is the managing editor of Drugwatch, a consumer advocacy website.

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